Home > Mind & Soul > Self-Confidence > How to Be More Assertive at Work – From Asking to Negotiating

How to Be More Assertive at Work – From Asking to Negotiating

You need to know how to be more assertive at work because it’ll get you more money, improve your relationships with your coworkers, and increase your self-confidence.

These assertiveness tips will help you ask for what you want — and get it.

Before the tips, a quip:


“Exploit the remarkable power of asking. Telling can be perceived as bossy, dismissive, and patronizing,” writes P.M. Forni in in The Civility Solution: What to Do When People Are Rude. “Asking is always validating. Someone is being hostile and rude? Ask what her or she suggests to bring about a satisfactory solution…When you favor asking over telling, the other person is less likely to become defensive and escalate a confrontation. Furthermore, you may come across innovative and smart solutions you wouldn’t have thought of yourself.”

To learn more about being assertive, read  People Skills: How to Assert Yourself, Listen to Others, and Resolve Conflicts.

And, here are five tips for being more assertive at work…

How to Be More Assertive at Work – From Asking to Negotiating

These assertiveness tips are based on something that often happens in my writing career: editors and publishers ask me to write an article, but don’t want to pay what I normally charge. How do I deal with it? By applying tips that will work for any situation…

1. Ask questions about the issue. When I think I deserve more money for an article assignment, I say, “Fifty cents cents per word seems a little low to me. Can we raise it to a dollar a word?” It’s a simple question, and my editors can say no if they want. Even if I lose the article assignment, I’ll gain self-respect. Asking for what you want clearly and honestly is one way to be more assertive at work.

2. Be clear about why you want what you want. Why do I want to earn more money, or a dollar a word? Because my articles need very little editing, I always turn them in on time or early, I’m easy to work with, and I cite reliable sources. To be more assertive at work, you need to figure out what you want and why you want it. Once you’re clear why you want it, you’ll be better able to express it — which will help you achieve your career goals.

3. Give reasons that support your wish. In my case, I’d say: “I’ve been writing for this magazine for almost two years, and have always turned in great work. I’m prompt and reliable. Fifty cents per word seems a little low to me. Do you think we could raise it to a dollar a word?”  A related way to be more assertive at work is to practice saying or writing what you want before you’re in the situation. The more comfortable you are with your request, the more confident you’ll feel when the time comes.

How to Convince People to Say Yes – 5 Persuasion Techniques is an excellent article to read if you’re negotiating something at work.

4. Be realistic about your situation. Getting away from the work example: if you have a teen who refuses to pick up his clothes or an overly “supportive” mother who calls you twice a day, then asking for what you want — no matter how assertive you are — may not be realistic. Or, maybe you’ve already asked a million times. Asking for what you want doesn’t work in every situation, just like comfort food doesn’t comfort every time.

If your coworkers or supervisors are complaining about your appearance, read When Your Coworkers Complain About What You Wear to Work.


5. Expect to negotiate. Back to the “asking for a raise” example: if this magazine simply can’t afford to pay me more, then I may not get the rate that I really want. That’s fine. I’m happy to compromise – and having lived in Africa for three years, I’m adept at bartering! A “no” doesn’t mean the door is firmly shut. It just means you may have to negotiate a little, which is good for your brain and self-esteem!

To achieve your goals at work, read 5 Tips for Achieving Your Career Goals – From Confusion to Clarity.


Want to Blossom?

Get my free "Echoes of Joy" email! Once a week, short & sweet.

* indicates required



If you have any thoughts on these assertiveness tips, please comment below…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

1 thought on “How to Be More Assertive at Work – From Asking to Negotiating”

  1. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    It can be tricky, to find the balance between being more assertive at work, and being too aggressive. Learning assertiveness is tricky!